Friends & Lovers: Coming Out in Montréal in the 1970s
“Social Security” (The Showroom, London 1988), an earlier archival project, documenting my Indian family’s migration to Montreal in 1969 avoided the underlying developing friction that I was also coming out as gay. In this exhibition, I’m reaching into my archive of images once again to describe my assimilation into Canada via an early embrace of the gay liberation movement in Montreal and the development of another family, an extended gay family. My hobby had a purpose suddenly and I documented people and places around me. Coincidentally the initial location of the movement was ‘Gay McGill’ and since I shared an apartment with my sister and then lover just two blocks away on Sherbrooke and Stanley, the apartment became an informal hub. People hung out, everything was discussed, the bars were down the road, and I made pictures for the fledgling paper; the aftermath of the fire at the sauna, the facades of bars, the early gay liberation marches and so on. My parents were slightly bemused and came to visit almost every day. I gave them a reading list to help them understand but I don’t think they took me up on it. They thought it was a phase. But it wasn’t and I never came to live with them and I never got married and ‘settled down’ in their eyes as a proper Indian son. Instead I followed my lover further and further away; first to New York and then to London, with the expanding gay family everywhere.